An autoimmune response occurs when the body’s immune system mounts an attack on its own organs or tissues. Type 1 diabetes, for example, results when immune cells destroy insulin-producing cells in the pancreas. Although genetic predisposition is a major factor, seemingly benign viral infections also may play a role in this disease. However, the mechanisms by which viral infections cause autoimmune disease remain unclear. Martin Richer is researching how viruses cause autoimmune type 1 diabetes. He is investigating the mechanisms by which the immune system is sensitized by exposure to a virus and mounts an attack on normal cells. Martin is also studying how this activity influences the development and progression of disease, and how the process can be regulated. The findings could improve understanding of how viral infections lead to autoimmune responses and diseases such as type 1 diabetes.